One of the questions that most intrigued me when I started the program was "what can I do to really help the people in my project?" Many ideas came to my head and at the same time many more doubts. Do I know enough? What do I understand about their situation? Do I have what it takes to create a change? Can I really make them change? Is that what they really need? I did not have an answer to these questions immediately but I knew that despite the uncertainty, the answer to those questions would appear over time.
So, how to start solving the questions? In order to be a Development Instructor, you should have skills and knowledge that facilitate the interaction, relationship and transfer of knowledge with the communities in which we will work. If we do not already have these skills highly developed, it's not a problem! You always can learn. You just have to have the desire and the intention to do it. I have concluded that one of the main characteristics of a volunteer that will impact the program experience and the project is ATTITUDE.
If you have the will to learn, teach and share with a good attitude, the people of the community will notice it and this energy is contagious!. It is a fact that change will not come from a single person. It is important to understand that. However with our attitude, it is possible to initiate a process of understanding that ends in change. It is not necessary to start with complex concepts. Small and creative ideas can make a big difference. Washing your hands in front of children with soap and water accompanied by a song or a dance can result in an effective hygiene campaign. Asking locals to teach you 5 words about love in the local dialect and with them make a slogan or a song that you repeat with them every day, can result in a decrease in domestic violence. When it comes to fighting poverty, no idea is irrelevant!
You can work with whatever tool you have on hand. The good attitude combines with everything. However, I also learned that maintaining a good attitude for a long time is very difficult because in every process of change there is resistance, difficulties, and adversities. This generates frustration and in many cases, the desire to give up working. At this point, the important thing is not to faint. I learned that the best tool to understand the origin of resistance is active listening. Pay attention to what people have to say. When you listen carefully, you realize how the solution or part of it is implicit within a claim. And I think that is another way to impact a project: listening carefully and focus on actions according to what has been learned.
By listening, you can understand what are the main concerns and highest priority problems to solve for the community. Creative ideas can offer novel solutions to these problems, and a positive and optimistic attitude will create the energy and empathy to implement those ideas involving more people. It is important to understand that the impact as DI depends more on your attitude than on your knowledge. Overcoming poverty is a process, and as such, requires time. Our role as DIs is nothing more than to support this process by providing energy and hands to work, serving as a communication hub and providing all this with the best attitude we could have. I believe that in this way we will help to speed up the process of change, reduce times and win the fight against that common enemy that is poverty!
Written By: Jonathan Marin - Senior Development Instructor